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Weekly Paintings By National Award Winning Artist Terry d. Chacon

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Joshua Tree National Park 2009

Joshua Tree National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

Humans have occupied the area encompassed by Joshua Tree National Park's nearly 800,000 acres for at least 5,000 years. And let me tell you this is an understatement. The minute you arrive through the gates you have the feeling you are on another planet. This is a must see place. Make a special trip, it is worth every minute spent.
Terry's 8 x 10 oil on canvas board "Joshua Tree Boulders 2009"

Terry painting her view. I really need to thank the guy who was out hiking. If it weren't for his truck sitting there I would have had no place to lean my umbrella. I wanted to make sure and stay out of the sun.

Ada and Terry discussing the views. The fun thing about Joshua Tree is every place you look is a painting waiting to happen.

Erin, Pat and Terry after painting. Relaxing in the shade of Pat's SUV.

Erin O'Connor from Jackson Hole, Wyoming is the artist in residence at Joshua Tree right now. She contacted us (PAAR) to see if we would like to meet with her for an informal day of painting the beautiful park. Ada Passaro arranged the date and times and we met on wed. Pat Ford, Lilli Miles and myself left my house around 6 a.m. and drove to the town of Joshua Tree which is where you will find one of the entrances to the Park. We stopped at this cute little cafe to buy some sandwiches for lunch and a refill on coffee. Ada had emailed us a map, but of course none of us brought it along, but we did remember she wanted to meet Erin at Hidden Valley. We were the first to arrive at Hidden Valley, which there were several camp grounds which have great views of the ever famous boulders that surround the park area. Pat and I wanted to paint wild flowers and when we drove towards Barker Dam we came across this great little spot. Wildflowers, Joshua Trees and boulders were in abundance. Lilli dropped us off so we could get started and capture the wonderful morning high desert light. She then went back to the main road to wait for the others and to try and find Erin. We had ran into fellow artist Camilo Granadas and he had some information which was very helpful on where we were to meet, unfortunately cell phones do not work in the park. Lilli found Erin and the rest of the group and they all joined us for a wonderful painting session.

Camilo, Susan and Pat painting at Barker Dam Camp Ground.

After everyone completed their paintings we followed Erin up to her place where she has been staying for the past 3 weeks painting the beautiful scenes of the park. Erin fixed us some much needed iced tea and all of us enjoyed viewing her wonderful paintings, talking about plein air art and eating our lunch. After lunch we took some photos of the group and decided to head out towards the Cholla plants which were about 30 more miles into the park. Along the way we saw so many wonderful rock formations and beautiful flowers on the road side. We were like kids in a candy shop, we wanted to paint everything.

We arrived at the Cholla plant garden which were unbelievable and Ron warned us to be very careful. They are called jumping Cholla's. The thorns are in little balls and sometimes are lying around on the ground. Do not touch. They will stick to you and the only way to get them off is with pliers. If someone tries to help you, they will be stuck. They glistened from the light even though by now it was overcast skies. The plants have lots of buds on them and I suspect in the next couple weeks they will be in full bloom. cholla (plant) -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia

Someone mentioned Ocotilla gardens down the road, so we hopped back in the car and away we went. It is amazing. I have never seen so many ocotilla in one area. You always see them on the side of Interstate 10 when traveling to Az., but never like this. Pat and I quickly set up our easels and painted the scene. Sometimes you get it on location, sometimes you don't. Lesson learned which I should know by now is that the contrast of the lights and darks is what makes a painting as you can see in the first painting. In the second painting the light was just not there and there were no beautiful shadows to capture because of the overcast skies. The painting has the feeling of the time and day, but not the wow factor that you get from brilliant shadows and shimmering light. When I stepped out of the car there was this wonderful fragrance. It was this fabulous deep purple bush, which is what reached out and grabbed me to paint this painting, unfortunately the finished product is not worthy of the blog appearance!
Terry painting the Ocotillo garden.

I would like to thank Pat for driving us through the park. And I mean it literally. When we came out on interstate 10, we laughed so hard to realize we had our choice to go to Blythe or Indio. We really saw a lot of the park and were probably 2 hours out of our way back home. When you are driving through the park it is very easy to go left instead of right or vice versa. We stopped for a nice late dinner in Banning and headed home. Thank you Pat and Lilli for sharing your photos with me to put on my blog. Until next time, ENJOY THE ART! Terry d. Chacon


  1. Terry,

    I look forward to receiving your weekly email and reading your blog. I especially love reading about your different outings in California and seeing how you capture the beauty that many people don't see and take for granted. Makes me home sick.

    My parents took me to Joshua Tree Nat'l Park when I was a young girl. I didn't appreciate it then as much as I do now.


  2. Another great Plein Air Adventure with Painters. I am glad you enjoy the Art, Terry.


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